Do you know how to get answers to your important medication questions after you leave the doctor’s office? Each year, thousands of people end up in the hospital or fail to get better when they are ill because they didn’t take their medications properly. To prevent improper medication use, the University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy recommends talking to your pharmacist.
“Improper use of medications causes about 10 percent of all hospital admissions annually. Nearly 50 percent of senior citizens who are admitted to a hospital have improperly used medicine,” says Matt McMahan, assistant professor and clinical pharmacist, UK College of Pharmacy.
Talk to your pharmacist
“Older Kentuckians are at a greater risk for hospitalization and death from adverse drug reactions. Regular medicine checkups can help our aging population stay healthy and avoid these unnecessary outcomes,” says McMahan.
By working with a pharmacist, patients can make sure medicines are taken safely and correctly. To prevent drug interactions, ask the pharmacist before taking over-the-counter medicines with prescribed drugs or before taking more than one prescribed medication.
A simple conversation between the patient and pharmacist about prescription and over-the-counter medicines can maximize health benefits and help avoid harmful side effects.
Ask your pharmacist if your medication will work safely with other prescription and nonprescription medicines you may be taking, including herbal products. Also, it is important to follow instructions and to discontinue use of a medication only after consulting with your health care provider. Discontinuing medicine before it is recommended can lead to more expensive treatments.
Questions to ask
Pharmacists can educate you about your medications, both prescription and nonprescription. Before taking any new medication, make sure you know the answers to the following questions or talk to your pharmacist and physician.
1. What is the name of the medication and what is it supposed to do?
2. When and how do I take it?
3. How long should I take it?
4. Does this medication contain anything that can cause an allergic reaction?
5. Should I avoid alcohol, any other medicines, foods, and/or activities?
6. Should I expect any side effects?
7. What if I forget to take my medication?
8. Is it safe to become pregnant or to breast-feed while taking this medication?
9. Is there a generic version of the medication that my doctor has prescribed?
10. How should I store my medications?
For more health information from the UK College of Pharmacy, visit www.mc.uky.edu/Pharmacy/healthinformation.html.